It’s 2018 … And It’s Time to Talk About Employee Retention

By Paul Bieber

How many times can you hear about retaining your employees, tell yourself that you’re doing a good job with this, and still have a turn-over rate of more than 10 percent? Most workplace accidents occur during an employee’s first year. Most companies will see this ridiculously high expense when they look at their comp history.


Let’s take someone making $20 per hour who you decide to let go or who leaves you for a better job. You then advertise, interview, spend time doing background checks, incur weeks of lower productivity for the area Mr. New Guy is now in, and take on in-creased supervisory costs. In the end, the average total expenditure is about a half-year’s pay. Additionally, every time someone leaves, voluntarily or not, your morale ticks lower and it stays low for quite a while.

How do you prevent this? Easy: improve your hiring skills. No more saying “We’ll try him for a couple of weeks and see what happens,” or “He looks like a good kid, let’s give him a shot in the shipping area.”

Most glazing contractors I know spend more time researching and quoting a $100k job than they do on hiring one person. Or, they pay an agency around $15k to bring in a $40k employee.

Consider this. You place an ad for a position, whether on the Internet or in a newspaper. You get 15 résumés. Five of them want the moon in salary. Forget them. Another five have no industrial experience at all. You’re willing to do some training, but these five had no industrial work in their background skills.

So now you have five viable candidates. Spend ten to 15 minutes on the phone with each one. Get a feel for how they communicate, how they present their job ethics—why are they leaving their current job, or why did their current job leave them? If these concepts come together, you are now set for an interview.

This is what you’ve always done. It’s now become a true negotiation between you and the candidate. It can be tough to hire. What do you have to do?Mention your whole slew of benefits in the first interview. Salary is still number one, but if two employers both offer $20 per hour, the one with the better benefits will be the one hiring.


Vacation: Two weeks after six months of employment and three weeks after five to eight years. Allow for carryover of vacation until June 30 of the next year.

Holidays: Give a minimum of eight.

Holiday bonuses: Mention here that you have done this in the past and hope to again this year, and share what the range has been in the past. Promising this bonus turns it into salary and takes away the goodwill created by handing out these special checks.

Medical insurance: Don’t be stingy here. You should be paying 75 percent of the cost for single or family coverage. Make this a good insurance plan, covering as many situations as you can. This may cost you between $6 and $8 per hour. Great insurance is what will draw employees to you. Give a payroll credit for an employee who doesn’t use your benefits. Keeping your team and their family healthy will keep them productive at work.

Dental insurance: This isn’t as much a factor as medical. You can skimp a little here.

Vision insurance: A relatively inexpensive benefit that goes a long way with employees and families.

Education: Pay for all employees who take a pre-approved business-related course and get a good grade. An A gets 80 percent reimbursed, a B gets 60 percent, a C gets 50 percent, and a D or F gets zero. Use the same formula to pay for books and fees.

Work boots: These should be mandatory everywhere, and steel-toed should be the standard. Pay for one pair of boots per year, up to $75 per pair.

These are all benefits that employees want. Since this is a negotiation, there are requirements that you need and want, too, such as drug testing and background checks. Most importantly, you need productivity along with work evaluations. We’ll cover that in my next column in the April issue.

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